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(Part 10)


November 16, 2013

We are all sinners. That is a fact of life. It is something we will struggle with all our lives, even as we strive to be saints. That is not a damnable situation, as long as we strive to repent.

But are you a corrupt Christian? Do you inflict not just harm on yourself as a sinner, but also harm to the Church? Who is the corrupt Christian, according to Pope Francis?[1]

First, he is one who causes scandal.

  • The leadership of a Church organization that brings another Church organization to court rather than to Church authorities regarding a matter that involves Church work.[2]
  • Gossiping (speaking against) with brethren about the perceived shortcomings of another, causing dissent and disunity within the body.

Second, he is one who leads a double life.

  • Going to Mass on Sunday and receiving communion, but the rest of the week doing many things contrary to Christian ways.
  • Giving teachings in CFC-FFL but blatantly failing to live these out himself.

Third, he is one who is unjust. Justice is giving to the other what is his due.

  • Not having enough awe and respect for the Lord in the Eucharist.
  • Not doing enough to be his brother’s keeper, especially in the context of Christian community.
  • Depriving God (and the community) of his time, talent and treasure, thereby adversely affecting mission.

Fourth, he is one who deceives. Satan is the deceiver, the father of lies.

  • Telling outright lies about others in order to malign them.
  • Telling half-truths, spinning a situation in order to convey a different meaning or conclusion, even as he tells the “truth.”

Fifth, he is one who does not know humility. Jesus humbled himself, while Satan exalted himself.

  • A servant leader who governs more as a lord rather than a servant.
  • Insisting on his own ideas and preferences, despite having already taken up the matter with various leaders in community.
  • Quitting or resigning unceremoniously and in effect abandoning his service when he does not get his way.

Sixth, he is one who does not live in the spirit of the gospel but in the spirit of worldliness.

  • Engaging in gossip about brethren in Christian community.
  • A CFC-FFL leader bringing his complaints about other leaders to his household members and ending up maligning those leaders.

The sinner can and will be saved. After all, Jesus came into the world for sinners. But the corrupt Christian, one who talks like a Christian but does not walk as a Christian, is one who does not have the Spirit of God, and is fit just to have a millstone placed around his neck and be thrown into the sea.


Pope Francis: 'Corrupt Christians Do Much Harm to the Church'

Reflects on Christ's Forgiveness of Repentant Sinners During Morning Mass

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, November 11, 2013 ( - During his homily at Casa Santa Marta today, the Holy Father warned of those who pretend to be Christian while calling on the faithful to recognize themselves as sinners so as not to be corrupt.

Drawing from today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Pope Francis underlined Christ’s example in forgiving a repentant sinner. However, Jesus also gives a word of warning to those who are a cause of scandal. “What is the difference between sinning and scandalizing?” the Holy Father asked.

“The difference is that one who sins and repents, asks forgiveness, feels weak, feels like a son of God, humbles himself, and asks for salvation from Jesus. But the other who scandalizes, what is it that scandalizes? That he does not repent. He continues to sin, but pretends to be a Christian: the double life. And the double life of a Christian does much harm, so much harm. ‘But I am a benefactor of the Church! I put my hand in my pocket and I give to the Church.’ But with the other hand, he robs: the State, the poor...he steals. He is unjust. This is the double life. And this merits - says Jesus, not myself - that a millstone be placed around his neck and thrown to the sea. He does not speak of forgiveness here.”

The one who scandalizes deceives, he continued, and where there is deception, there is no Spirit of God. The Holy Father stated that such is the difference between one who is a sinner and one who is corrupt. One who is corrupt will continue to lead a double life while a repentant sinner will admit his weakness and will go to the Lord.

“And we should call ourselves sinners, yes, everyone, here!, we all are. Corrupt, no. One who is corrupt is fixed on a state of sufficiency, he does not know what is humility,” the Pope said. “Jesus, to these corrupt ones, says: Their beauty is of ‘whitewashed sepulchres, that appear beautiful, on the exterior, but within are full of dead bones and decay. And a Christian who boasts about being a Christian, but does not live the Christian life, is one of these corrupt ones.”

“We all know one person,” he continued, “who is in this situation and how much damage they do to the Church! Corrupt Christians, corrupt priests...How much harm they do to the Church! Because they do not live in the spirit of the Gospel, but in the spirit of worldliness.”

Pope Francis stressed to those present that entering into this worldliness can take one to live a double life, calling the life one who is corrupt as a “varnished decay.” Concluding his homily, the Holy Father noted the beauty of Christ’s example who called on his disciples to forgive those who are repentant.

“That is what [Jesus] does with sinners. He does not tire of forgiving, only on the condition of not living this double life, to go to Him repentant: ‘Forgive me, Lord, I am a sinner!’. ‘Go forward, go forward,: I know.’ And such is the Lord. Let us ask today the grace of the Holy Spirit that flees from every deception, let us ask the grace to recognize ourselves sinners: we are sinners. Sinners, yes. Corrupt, no.”

* * *

[1] Bullet-point examples are according to the SG, within the context of community.
[2] To the public the scandal would involve all parties concerned. But just like a married couple that separates, sometimes there is the innocent party. The culpable one in a scandal is the one who does not follow the way of dialogue, forgiveness, love for one’s enemy, and submission to Church authority.
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